I’ve really been looking forward to this interview. Her book is the type that is right down my alley, so to speak.
I’m so glad we can have a talk about your work, Gwen.
What was the inspiration behind your book?
Fascination with the paranormal and psychic phenomenon have always been of interest to me. And then I added elements of my grandmother, who was Scotch-Irish and Cherokee. I always adored her black hair and blue eyes, and so I gave my protagonist those features, along with my grandmother’s maiden name, Eady. It was a way of paying tribute and honoring someone who was very important in my life. And so my main character, Indigo Eady, was born.
Nice! My sister has black hair and blue eyes; it’s a very striking combination.
Being an aficionado of things supernatural, I’ve followed a number of researchers, but I’d never heard of shadow people using weaker spirits to manifest. Was that your idea, or did you read it/see it somewhere?
During my research over the years I had heard of negative entities feeding off the energy of the living. The idea is that when you acknowledge something, you give it power, whether it’s a positive or negative thought or act. So a person in a weak state is susceptible to such negative psychic attacks. And of course when you’re writing fiction, you have to go a bit over the fictional top and enhance and tweak things to make them more interesting.
And you did just that. I can certainly see the relationship, and it makes real sense.
As for the setting, is your medieval English town based on one you’ve been to?
Yes! I visited a medieval town in England called Shrewsbury and absolutely fell in love with it. I figured a village that old must absolutely still hold the energy of the past. In particular, ghosts. So I modeled the fictional village of Sabrina Shores after Shrewsbury and gave it a very active spirit community.
The ghosts milling about was one of my favorite parts of the book. But it was a surprise to read that you used Shrewsbury as your model. One of my favorite series is by Ellis Peters; it’s called the Brother Cadfael series, and takes place in medieval Shrewsbury. They are also murder mysteries.
I’m looking forward to reading your next book. What will it be about?
I have two works in progress. My next book in the Indigo Eady Parnormal “Cozy” Mystery series is called A Guilty Ghost Surprised. If you’ll recall from Givin’ Up The Ghost, Simon Eady’s mother and brother had been killed three years previously in a hit and run accident. So when Simon’s little brother reappears, the next murder mystery is in the works. They try to find the hit and run driver so they can figure out why Bryan returned and send him back. As a side note, I added a ghost dog named Chance, who is modeled after my own lovely granddog, Chance, an old English bulldog. You’ll recognize the name below in the excerpt J
The second work in progress is a novella called Seco
nd Death (a working title), An Indigo Eady Afterlife Mystery. It’s based on the same characters, but is a bit more fanciful and filled with the spirit world, but in keeping with the same light YA Parnormal of the Indigo Eady series (at least, thus far J). In A Guilty Ghost Surprised, there’s a scene where Franny (the resident ghost madam) tells Indigo that there is a whole spirit community in Sabrina Shores and there is some concern because spirits have gone missing. And so this novella is an off-shoot of that, where the gang tries to solve the mystery of missing paranormals. It’s also tied to the “shadow people” we discussed above.
Can we get an excerpt?
From the unedited first draft version of A Guilty Ghost Surprised:
“I mean it’s incredibly haunted, to put it in living terms. The house is old and a lot of people have died there, so it attracts the dead looking for a place to be,” said Franny.
“That makes sense. Maybe that’s why Chance made his way there.”
“Could be.” She sounded worried.
She stopped float-pacing and turned to me. “That energy-sucking Soul Collector is there.”
I sighed. Like she was telling me something new. “I know that. Badger and I already ran into him. It. Whatever.”
“Indigo.” She knelt down beside me, laying chilly hands on my arm. “Don’t go back there. That evil thing wants you. Nobody trusts it.”
“Nobody, as in…”
“The entire spirit community of Sabrina Shores.”
Crap. That’s what I was afraid of. A whole community of spirits resided in this town. Even worse, they sounded organized. I’d never heard of such a thing.
I shook my head. “By community, do you mean, like, town meetings and gatherings? Sporting events? Church? School?”
“Yes. Only different. Some spirits continue their lives, uh, after life. They do the same things they always did. But it’s different, too. Strange. But you get used to it.”
“Strange? Strange how?” My heart beat faster. This was new, scary.
“There are things, beings.” She stopped, clearly struggling.
I gave her time, waiting wide-eyed.
She continued. “Monsters, some of them.”
I gasped. “Monsters?”
“Oh, not like the one on the tube that scared Bryan, that Frankincense monster. No, these were once human, only mutated by what they had become. Most of them, anyway.”
“Frankenstein,” I corrected absently, more focused on the most part of the statement. “What do you mean by most of them?”
She shrugged. “Some of them I don’t think could ever have been human, dear.”
“Like the Soul Collector?”
She nodded. “We coexist peacefully for the most part, but sometimes we have our differences. Sometimes it’s not very pretty. Sometimes…”
“What? Sometimes what?” I held my breath.
“Sometimes spirits simply disappear. Like a second death. Nobody knows where they go.”
“A second death,” I repeated…
OK–get to workin’, kiddo. You have me drooling for more.
(Gotta focus…) What was your favorite part of “Givin’ Up the Ghost”?
One of my favorite scenes in Givin’ Up The Ghost was the pink bra floating down the hall. This was when Indigo just met Franny, and Franny decides to help her dress up: “The door opened and a pink push-up bra floated through and bobbed up and down the hall. I ran after it and snatched it out of the air. I threw a glance over my shoulder to see Simon’s amazed face before I went into my bedroom and slammed the door.”
Love it! Such an everyday occurrence. Simon has to get used to a lot of weird things around Eady.
You seem to have a pretty good grasp of English vernacular, customs, etc. Have you ever been to England?
Yes, several times, from London to the Cotswolds. I am a complete anglophile and love all things English, which is part of the reason I place the settings of my books there. Living there for a year is on my Bucket List, as well.
I’m like that too, except I am in love with Scotland. I’d love to spend an extended amount of time there.
Have you had any paranormal encounters yourself?
Speaking of shadows… My daughter and I were sitting on our deck one evening, at around 9:00 p.m. It was rural and quite dark, except for a motion light on the corner of the house. The light came on, which drew our eyes. A human shadow passed through the light. The light went out. Our glowing eyes met through the darkness. “Did you see that?” my daughter asked. “Yes, I did,” I answered. We discussed the possibilities. An Indian friend later told us the land we lived on was once owned by the Kumeyaay nation (tribal lands were now a mile away), and that the spirits still lurked there.
Oh wow–what an experience. It would be interesting to know if there have been any other manifestations.
So I’m curious: where did you come up with “Badger”?
Initially I set out to write a children’s book, and so I wanted to give my characters names that fit their personalities. The Badger (animal) is a scrappy fighter, and that’s the vision I had of the character. When I switched to YA, I left the name Badger – and he’s still a scrappy fighter – and made it a family name to give credence to the unusual name. You’ll recall in Givin’ Up The Ghost that Badger’s family owns the pub called the Blind Badger where the gang spends a lot of time in the back “snug” discussing the investigation.
Yes–and it really does sound like the name of an English pub. I like it!
Thanks for the interview, Gwen. Best of luck with writing your next two books. I’m looking forward to seeing them published.
One last thing: Where can we connect with you?